Rosewood vs Ebony/Maple

Discussion in 'Standard Guitars' started by Althos, Jul 7, 2018.

  1. Althos

    Althos SS.org Regular

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    Hi, everytime I search for comparisons between fingerboard woods (at least the main ones), there are lenghty speeches about the density of the woods, the tone they produce,... but am I the only one that feels like rosewood is awful to play on ?

    I used to own an EC1000 guitar, which was a great guitar except for a few things, one of which being that it had a rosewood fingerboard.
    After acquiring a guitar with a maple fingerboard (Schecter JL FR7), I realized how much of a difference there was in feel between both woods, it was like night and day. And yes, I know that I might not have cared for that rosewood as well as I should have, being a newbie at that time, but it was still cleaned and oiled regularly.
    I first thought it was because my frets were getting worn down from old age (which was true) and that the problem didn't come from the rosewood itself, seeing as great guitars come equipped with it and everyone seems to appreciate it, or that I just didn't have good rosewood on mine.
    However, I recently had the opportunity to test a Musicman Luke at a store that came with a rosewood board, and damn, it felt DREADFUL, even worse than I remembered, and yes, I know that store guitars are not as good because sweat, old strings and subpar maintenance, but still, that guitar felt like a cheap 400dollars guitar to me while being relatively new and setup properly (and I'm also used to dead strings because I'm lazy as fuck), mostly because of that rosewood board while doing bends.

    So, how do you guys feel about it ? And if you prefer rosewood, what do you think its advantages are ?
     
  2. Seventhwave

    Seventhwave SS.org Regular

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    It's my least favorite fretboard wood based strictly on feel. The best explanation that I heard over the years was that compared to Maple and Ebony, Rosewood is softer. As such, the vibration of the strings doesn't reflect or "bounce off" the board like it does on the harder woods. Rather that the vibrations are partially absorbed by the softer woods. That's why stuff like Ebony or Maple often tends to be described as "snappy".

    Of course that could all be a bunch of hippy nonsense. But it came from a pretty respected luthier, and seemed to make some sense to me in general.
     
  3. Edika

    Edika SS.org Regular

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    Maple boards are always finished so they feel smoother for sure, despite being denser. Personally I don't feel a difference between fretboard woods and I think my eyes play the biggest role in the perception of the instrument. Tonally it depends on other factors like pickups, amps and the guitar as a whole. I haven't tried however two identical guitars with identical electronics but only different fretboard wood to hear for any differences.
     
  4. RiksRiks

    RiksRiks ERG Player Wannabe

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    I have a rosewood fingerboard equipped EC401 and don't really feel a huge difference with my other maple and ebony fingerboards, just think it's nicer to see. I do feel that my phenolic fingerboard is dull in comparison but smoother (not that I touch it when I play anyways) than any other.
     
  5. possumkiller

    possumkiller Goose stepping in front of a mirror

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    I feel slightly faster on ebony and maple because they are smoother and slightly less resistant to my fingertips. I still like rosewood though. Honestly to me the wood doesn't really matter to me. If it plays good and sounds good, it is good.
     
  6. JustinRhoads1980

    JustinRhoads1980 SS.org Regular

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    Prefer Ebony. Maple is ok, rosewood eh.

    More of an aesthetic thing

    Ebony > Maple > Rosewood
     
  7. Andrew Lloyd Webber

    Andrew Lloyd Webber Enjoyed by 4 out of 5

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    Does anyone else get a “squirtle-charmander-bulbasaur” vibe from these threads?
     
  8. budda

    budda Guiterrorizer Contributor

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    I notice a difference in feel but it doesn't translate to me playing any better. I grew up on a rosewood board so that's my home base. The ebony board on my old Artist V sold me on that too. I don't really care what the wood is so long as it fits the finish/aesthetic and it's a good quality piece of lumber.
     
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  9. narad

    narad SS.org Regular

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    I generally buy into this, but feel like it's such a tiny thing that there's no point in worrying about it. Just get what looks best.
     
  10. Rawkmann

    Rawkmann SS.org Regular

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    Rosewood is my preference honestly. These days it seems like everyone dislikes em but I think a nice dark slab of rosewood looks and feels great. Hard to imagine something like a MusicMan Luke being so poor just because of having a rosewood fretboard, the ones I've played were probably some of the best guitars I've ever touched.
     
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  11. gienek

    gienek SS.org Regular

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  12. Andromalia

    Andromalia Pardon my french

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    "Rosewood" covers a lot of area. My ESP UltraTone has a rosewood fingerboard, which is as tight-grained as most ebony boards. The rosewood you see on guitars is only as good as what you pay for it.
    I do prefer tighter material on my boards but don't carer whether it's rosewood or else. The baked maple on my Gibson tribute does a pretty good job too. (To the 'but you don't touch the wood" people, yes, you do, that's why people scallop their necks. If you don't, try bending sometime ^^ )
     
  13. Wizard of Ozz

    Wizard of Ozz Arch-Mage of Metal

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    Generally I prefer:
    Ebony then Rosewood then Maple... in that order.

    Quality also plays a big role. I’d take a high quality piece of tight grained rosewood over a bad piece of laminated open grain streaked ebony any day.
     
  14. Dineley

    Dineley SS.org Regular

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    I think ebony looks nicer on many models, Epiphone Les Paul customs with rosewood kill me, however my Les Paul has a very nice rosewood board, so does my Duvell. Also love the finished maple necks a lot too, so yeah, all depends on the guitar I guess.
     
  15. TheWarAgainstTime

    TheWarAgainstTime "TWAT" for short

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    Ebony is my favorite, followed by maple/birdseye, then rosewood. That's mostly based on aesthetics, though I do notice a slight "feel" difference with rosewood due to it being much more porous than ebony or maple. That's not inherently good or bad, just a difference.

    I don't believe fingerboard choice makes any perceivable difference in tone on electric guitars as long as it's well-cut and properly dried/treated :2c:
     
  16. NateFalcon

    NateFalcon #Ox45

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    My fingers don’t really touch the actual fretboard much so it doesn’t matter to me. I personally don’t like the open grain of rosewood, myself. I like ebony but I’m getting more conscious about where rosewood and ebony come from. Maple is the most environmentally friendly solution. There’s also A LOT outside of maple, ebony and rosewood...I prefer locally sourced hardwoods for my personal builds/rebuilds. For store bought guitars, again I prefer the look and tight grain of ebony but it also depends on the color of the guitar, pickups, hardware...no wrong choice
     
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  17. Althos

    Althos SS.org Regular

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    I saw this thread, and it's partly why I made this one, because people just talk about tone and aesthetics, but I truly feel like rosewood feels terrible when doing bends and things like that while Ebony and Maple are fine because they're smoother and no one else seems to have this problem
     
  18. feraledge

    feraledge Heard the Good News about Maple Fretboards?

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    I personally think that there's more variation from neck or body wood slabs than the fretboard material is going to make necessarily. Bolt on versus neck through will make a vastly larger difference in terms of tone and response. Could be wrong, but have rarely had control situations similar enough to weigh it out.
    I used to dislike maple FBs, but of the three, they're the only source that's doing ecologically fine, which pushed me over. But I really love the way that maple develops play wear over time. To me, the fact that my guitars are generally kept on an obsessively clean level but that the fretboards build up wear is pretty rad.
    In terms of looks: maple > ebony > rosewood, but that's my tastes. I've rarely passed up a guitar because of the fretboard wood, but I'm more drawn to some guitars because of it.
     
  19. Wolfhorsky

    Wolfhorsky Regular idiot

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    I just leave it here:
     
  20. NateFalcon

    NateFalcon #Ox45

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    Maple is more prone to shifting and movement...
     
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